The last bit of light clung to the landscape. Soon all would be bathed in the glimmering light of a crescent moon which seemed intent on outshining the sun. A Warrior paused in her stirring on the ground. She knew moments like that; where the sun bade a spectacular farewell and the moon ushered in quiet and peace were not to be wasted.
Mists appeared in the tree line, insulating the land much as a shawl would insulate a person. Shadows grew longer and the Warrior began gathering herself again as a coolness crept across the earth. Looking around, she noted the buzz of activity had faded along with the light. With great effort and determination the Warrior gained her footing. The day had been a long one. She had begun preparation for the battle that day long before the sun had illuminated the field. Much time had been spent with her Leaders in the pre-dawn checking the soundness of the plan, weaponry and reverently dawning the gifts of protection the Leaders had bestowed.
There were many warriors gathering themselves on the same field and shouting rowdy songs of victory. All had made preparations for the battle though no two methods or weaponry was the same. There was only one small mark that every warrior wore that identified for which army they fought. While the mark was the same in design for all, a quill pen piercing a heart, it was never in the same place or affixed by the same method.
This particular Warrior’s marking was burned into the worn leather of her wrist guard. She looked down taking stock of all the new places the guard had been marred by the many arrows she’d released that day. Despite the wear to the wrist guard the mark remained perfectly crisp and intact. Sighing she picked up her bow that was in two pieces held together by the string which when taut had hummed in victory with every arrow loosed earlier in the day.
Holding her side, hunched and unsteady she made her way to the middle of the field. All along the way there were dark patches on the ground where the enemy had fallen and become piles of ash. While there were a great number of piles, she wished there had been more. Until there could be no more enemy to fight, she always wished there were more piles. The Leaders were making an enormous bonfire of the weapons of the enemy there in the middle of the field. The entire army seemed to be singing or dancing, all except that Warrior who sank to a log close to the fire. Grateful for the warmth she hung her head in fatigue and with a feeling of failure at how the battle had gone for her that day.
The morning had started so well. The Warrior had been safely ensconced in a stand of sturdy, ancient trees on a great branch with wide view of the field. When the battle cries were loosed and the fighting began her arrows found their mark with unerring accuracy, the thrum of battle in her veins left no room for fear or doubt of their victory. For what felt like days, waves of the enemy fell due to the preparation of her and her fellow warriors. As afternoon light began to fade the mounds of ash where once the enemy had stood became even more apparent and encouraged all who fought for The Leaders. The Warrior had a seemingly endless supply of arrows and victory seemed imminent, surely not a single enemy could have been left. It was with that last thought that the Warrior felt herself falling to the ground. The attack had been unseen and from one she had thought an ally. With the wind knocked out of her and the Traitor upon her the Warrior struggled fiercely but felt every brutal blow of the club wielded mercilessly by the Traitor. Blow after blow fell and the Warrior could not understand how she had been fooled. Blows fell faster and the Warrior was now in a defensive position worn down by her thoughts and the seemingly increased energy of the Traitor. Fear and Uncertainty paralyzed her when her last attempt to reach a knife in her boot failed. During her attempt to reach her boot the Traitor landed a particularly vicious blow to an old wound. It had been almost as if the Traitor knew that was her most vulnerable spot and that blow was the reason she held her side as she sat in shame by the fire, her chest felt shattered.
One of The Leaders approached the Warrior. So much comfort emanated from this Leader that warriors felt they could touch it. The Warrior tried to reject the comfort, not feeling worthy of the attention. Lifting her head she told herself she would see pity or disappointment. As always she was surprised to see pride and a fierceness glittering in the eyes of her Leader. The Leader said nothing but sat beside the Warrior on the log. Around them the loud and rowdy band of warriors swapped stories of the days victories, the joy was undeniable. However, with every story the Warrior’s head sunk lower and her wounds throbbed harder. Failure and defeat seemed all she had to share, no one else seemed to have been ambushed. The Leader placed a hand on her sinking head and with a tone that brooked no argument told the Warrior to lift her eyes and that shame would never be allowed in His camp. Confused by the love she saw in His gaze the Warrior blurted out as fast as she could all the ways she had failed Him and the others that day. She spared no detail and with a heart heavy as stone told the Leader she knew her many failings disqualified her as a warrior.
In the instant the Warrior disqualified herself something hot and mildly uncomfortable sizzled in the air causing the Warrior to stop her account. Stunned into silence the Warrior sat as The Leader wrapped her favorite green cloak around her and laid an arm across her shoulders. The Warrior picked up where she left off, saying she should have seen the attack coming, should have been better prepared, should never have let it go so far. The Leader interrupted and spoke so softly the Warrior had to sit very still and listen very closely to hear. He began by saying that He knew every detail of the event and had been only a breath away when she fell. He knew too, the very moment Fear and Uncertainty had ambushed her. He had indeed seen her valiantly engage on her own with the Traitor and had felt pride at her gusto but had yearned to hear her call to Him. She had never been out of His sight. While she had waged her own battle intent to go it alone He had been holding back other Assassins sent to finish her swiftly. Tears fell from both the Warrior and The Leader as they remembered together the moment she had been on the ground; reaching for the knife in her boot, failing, but then drawing as much air into her aching chest as she could for what she thought was her last act – a desperate cry to her Leader for help. Ever a paradox the Leader smiled at the recollection of hearing her determined cry for His help while she saw it as a sign of defeat.
The Leader wiped the tears from the Warrior’s face as He explained that her cry had not been one of failure but was actually her finding her greatest strength. He held her gaze so his next words could not be missed. He told her again, she had never been alone, never would be and that her trust in Him had been her greatest moment in the battle. Her skillfully loosed arrows did much to destroy the enemy and He took great pride in her and the skill she consistently honed. But it was in the split second, even surrounded by pain, when she took the chance to trust He would come through for her – that was her greatest victory. As He spoke the Warrior sat a little straighter and the pain began to fade. The Leader said how proud He was of every new strategy she learned, even if it was because of a messy battle and left a scar. Scars were just reminders of the battles they’d won together. A battle that only moments before she had considered herself a casualty of in the blink of an eye He had made her shining moment. Heat spread through her body, more intense than the roaring bonfire. No pain or wounding could withstand that cauterizing heat. Joy bubbled up from a place the Warrior never knew existed and she heard herself say she was ready fight with Him the next day! The Leader laughed low and told her she still had much to learn to be the Conqueror He had in mind. He told her He loved her scrappy spirit and as long as she remembered fighting with Him was her greatest strength not even a grave could separate them. Though there were many lessons to be learned yet, the Warrior knew she had found a priceless weapon in the midst of the rubble that day.